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A new year at Brit Spaugh Zoo
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Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo Supervisor Sara Hamlin is shown with a sun conure named Sunny. The bird is on loan to the zoo and arrived Dec. 24, 2015. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Wednesday was a quiet day at the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo, except for the occasional screeching of the newest resident, a colorful parrot cousin known as a sun conure.
The bird, named Sunny, also knows a few words, Zoo Supervisor Sara Hamilin said. “She says ‘night-night’ and ‘bye-bye.’”
Screeching is a normal form of communication for parrots, although not everyone is prepared for the volume that a 12-inch sun conure can emit. Maybe that’s why this bird is on loan to zoo. She arrived on Christmas Eve.
Sun conures, also known as sun parakeets, come from South and Central America, but Hamlin said the breed is commonly found in pet stores. Sun conures are colorful, curious and affectionate, but “they don’t always make the best pets,” she said.
“A lot of people don’t realize the care that goes into their upkeep,” Hamlin said. For example, their beaks need to be trimmed from time to time, a chore Dr. Mike Malone performed Wednesday. Malone and Dr. Jackie Corbett from the Animal Care Hospital in Great Bend are veterinarians to the zoo. Often they can be seen doing animal checkups on Wednesday afternoons.
They did physical exams on 60 animals in 2015 – which is slightly more than half of the collection at the zoo. Malone said all of the animals are checked at least every other years and some, such as monkeys, are checked annually.
This week, the vets stayed inside the main building, the Raptor Center, where Sunny and an assortment of small animals are housed. In addition to the sun conure, they checked the iguana, tiger salamander and another new animal, a German lop rabbit. As a new animal, this cute bunny is being kept in quarantine, but in the future it will be an education animal.

Winter viewing
Hamlin said new animals will be coming to the Ed Shed, another building at the zoo, in the coming weeks. Snakes from the Reptile House have also been into that building while the Reptile House is being renovated.
With the onset of winter some animals prefer to stay inside, but the public can always find something to view in the Raptor Center and the Ed Shed. The arctic foxes and the cougars are usually outside, Hamilin said.
The zoo’s black bear is in “torpor,” the state commonly called hibernation. Torpor is a state of decreased metabolism and activity, although the bear will sometimes eat, drink water and urinate.
Max, the senior grizzly bear, is in torpor most days, but the three young grizzlies, known affectionately as “the kids,” still spend part of their days outside.